I love gardening, but my motivation to get out there seems to have vanished.
Ben was not interested in gardening, so I did all the yard work. We had a unique division of labor in our house, but it worked for us. I have always loved getting out there and cleaning things up, planting flowers and mowing the lawn, and then sitting down and admiring the beauty of it. Ben only enjoyed it when I was finished and we could sit outside and just talk as the sun went down.
Now I just find it lonely, because at the end of the day when I am finished there is no one to enjoy it with. What’s the point of putting in all the work if I can’t show Ben when I’m done?
This is how we enjoyed the deck last year:
Now when I go outside, all I see is this:
Empty. And dirty, I might add. I’m not that motivated to clean it up when I know Ben won’t be sitting there. And, side note, I don’t find those chairs very comfortable. We spontaneously bought them for Ben last year because he liked them, and how does one say “no” to a person who has been freshly told they are dying. Right? But I still think he has some nerve to leave me with uncomfortable chairs.
This time last year we were muddling through Ben’s recent diagnosis but I continued to do the yard work and all the pruning because, despite the fact that Ben was sick, he was still there to appreciate the work and to enjoy it when it was done. He was still poking his head outside while I worked, and asking “what would you like for dinner when you’re done?” and sometimes just sitting on the deck while I worked. Now there is no one I can call out to when I am filthy and want a glass of water, or when I just want someone to come admire my progress (of which there has been none to date.) Today as I looked up at this crazy “half tree / half bush” in the yard that has to be violently pruned back every spring I wondered, “Who’s going to hold the ladder for me?” That’s a lonely thought.
Last year I admired an azalea bush while I was out with a friend, and the next day I found it sitting on my doorstep. I planted it in my front garden …
… and the other day I hung this above it:
It’s not just the fact that he’s not here to keep me company while I garden, or at least to admire it with me when I’m done that I find lonely. Its everything. He is still the first person I want to tell when anything happens. A hundred times a day I think, “I have to remember to tell Ben that” or “I have to ask Ben how to do that” or, more frequently, “I have to ask Ben to fix this because I screwed it up.” Its very lonely when I remember that I will never tell him anything again.
The other day the kids, my parents and I attended a presentation for Ben at Headquarters. The person making the presentation was someone that Ben and I had talked about in the past. We had seen his name on several email updates about Ben, and we had tried to figure out how Ben knew him. Ben couldn’t remember. During the presentation a light went on in my head and I connected the dots. I thought to myself, “Ah … after this is over I will have to explain that to Ben.” Then I remembered that I will never get to explain it to Ben. He never gets to find out the answer to his question.
This is what “Ben” was presented with. I’ll take a better picture when it hung on the wall. It is a certificate recognizing Ben’s service in the Force with his Regimental number on it and signed by the Commanding Officer of ‘E’ Division. I was very touched.
The other night I was fast asleep and I heard Ben say “Hello”. Not just “hello”, but more like, “Hellllloooooo.” I actually woke up and sat straight up in bed and said “Hello?” And then I looked around and said, “Hello?” again. I really thought he was there. It was funny for a moment. Then it wasn’t.
Here was a bittersweet moment this week:
Our “little” girl got her “N”. This time last year she had just gotten her “L”….
… and Ben wrote about it here. Now she is a fully licensed driver, and today we were working on getting her a car. Without her Dad. He really wanted to be there for this. I can’t believe he has to miss it.
In two days Jaime celebrates her 17th birthday. The first without her Dad. How will we ever get through?
I miss you Ben. I tried to prepare, and I knew for the last year that it was going to hurt a lot. But it turns out I did not adequately anticipate the extent of the pain and loneliness. I guess I didn’t think it was possible to hurt this much.